Democratic Socialism and Libertarianism are theoretical opposites, let’s unpack this.
I get it, we’re all frustrated with our political system. Trump is a dangerously racist demagogue (yes he is) and Hillary is the founder of ISIS (lol). Young voters are fiery, we like to think we can change the whole system with one miraculous candidate.
Enter Bernie Sanders. I voted for Bernie in the primary, I shared articles about him, I read bills he sponsored and co-sponsored, I watched videos of him taking stands on the Senate floor, I was excited. A lot of us were, because Sanders was promising to change a political system that feels broken.
Bernie Sanders is an independent, but to run in the primaries he had to run as a Democrat. This didn’t happen because he was strongarmed into the Democratic party (they didn’t want him) we’ve built a political system that favors two parties and to have a decent chance of being elected, a candidate should run in one of those two parties. Here’s an academic article that talks about this concept, yay college! Duverger’s Law
Sanders calls himself a Democratic Socialst, but he’s actually a Social Democrat. This seems like splitting hairs, but it isn’t – the two are quite different as The Atlantic points out. Here’s an excerpt from that article that outlines what a social democracy is:
“In a social democracy, individuals and corporations continue to own the capital and the means of production. Much of the wealth, in other words, is produced privately. That said, taxation, government spending, and regulation of the private sector are much heavier under social democracy than would be the case under pure capitalism.”
Taxation, government spending, and regulation of the private sector are much heavier. This is important, because this is how those Scandinavian governments that Sanders always lauds operate. This type of economic and political change resonated with a lot of young people, and Sanders has created Our Revolution to continue pushing his message forward.
Personally, I think government is important. Taxes pay for infrastructure, education, security, a judicial system, public preservation initiatives, and countless other things that we use & need. At times, it seems like all of these things are corrupted because so much of the power and money and influence comes from major corporations who lobby for their own benefit. Since Citizens United won their Supreme Court case, major organizations can also pour immense amounts of money into local campaigns to influence policy at the state level.
Too much money and not enough regulation in the political and economic system are bad for those not in power. In 2011, the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission found that “widespread failures in financial regulation and supervision proved devastating to the stability of the nation’s financial markets.”
Oh, they also found this:
“More than 30 years of deregulation and reliance on self-regulation by financial institutions, championed by former Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan and others, supported by successive administrations and Congresses, and actively pushed by the powerful financial industry at every turn, had stripped away key safeguards, which could have helped avoid catastrophe.”
So yeah, a Social Democrat making headlines was exciting. One little, just eency little speed bump though – Sanders didn’t win the nomination. Now what?! What the hell! He had tens of thousands of people at his rallies! In STADIUMS! What do you mean he’s not the nominee?! Who do I support as a change agent now?????
GARY MOTHERFUCKING JOHNSON IS JESUS CHRIST REBORN, THE PROPHET HAS RETURNED, CHANGE WILL COME!!
I know I know, I used to be a “Social Democrat” but now I’m a Libertarian – they’re the same thing basically like legal weed and gay marriage and a woman’s right to choose and shit so get ready for my Facebook posts, our third party vote matters!
I’ve seen this cartoon A. LOT.
Oh, what — you didn’t know it referenced Texas specifically? And also that it’s from 2014? That’s ok, we still see it all the time.
Anyway, Libertarian principles are basically the same as Bernie’s, right? No. In fact, they’re theoretical opposites. To use an essay tactic I learned in 5th grade English, The Oxford English Dictionary defines Libertarianism as “an extreme laissez faire political philosophy advocating only minimal state intervention in the lives of citizens” (Source). We should go straight to the party’s message too:
“We favor free-market banking, with unrestricted competition among banks and depository institutions of all types. Markets are not actually free unless fraud is vigorously combated. Those who enjoy the possibility of profits must not impose risks of losses upon others, such as through government guarantees or bailouts. Individuals engaged in voluntary exchange should be free to use as money any mutually agreeable commodity or item. We support a halt to inflationary monetary policies and unconstitutional legal tender laws.”
Wait a minute, didn’t the federal government conclude via a massive investigation that deregulation was the cause of our economic collapse? Actually, this argument is invalid because if the Libertarian Party believes “The only proper role of government in the economic realm is to protect property rights, adjudicate disputes, and provide a legal framework in which voluntary trade is protected. All efforts by government to redistribute wealth, or to control or manage trade, are improper in a free society.” then the government can’t actually investigate a financial crisis because that means they’re trying to control or manage trade which is against Libertarian policy which means that the findings of that investigation are improper and therefore inadmissible.
Shit. You got me there Libertarians.
Of course this is ridiculous, and the government should actually have power to control trade because corporate leadership is not elected by the public and therefore should not have the power to make decisions that affect the public welfare. The point here isn’t to argue about policy though, the point is to shine a light on the LITERAL OPPOSING VIEWS of Johnson and Sanders.
Here’s Sanders on the economy; you can read it if you want but trust me, it’s basically a shit ton of federal regulation on trade.
Demanding that the wealthy and large corporations pay their fair share in taxes. Stop corporations from shifting their profits and jobs overseas to avoid paying U.S. income taxes. Create a progressive estate tax on the top 0.3 percent of Americans who inherit more than $3.5 million. Enact a tax on Wall Street speculators who caused millions of Americans to lose their jobs, homes, and life savings.
Increasing the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $15 an hour by 2020. In the year 2015, no one who works 40 hours a week should be living in poverty.
Putting at least 13 million Americans to work by investing $1 trillion over five years towards rebuilding our crumbling roads, bridges, railways, airports, public transit systems, ports, dams, wastewater plants, and other infrastructure needs.
Reversing trade policies like NAFTA, CAFTA, and PNTR with China that have driven down wages and caused the loss of millions of jobs. If corporate America wants us to buy their products they need to manufacture those products in this country, not in China or other low-wage countries.
Creating 1 million jobs for disadvantaged young Americans by investing $5.5 billion in a youth jobs program. Today, the youth unemployment rate is off the charts. We have got to end this tragedy by making sure teenagers and young adults have the jobs they need to move up the economic ladder.
Fighting for pay equity by signing the Paycheck Fairness Act into law. It is an outrage that women earn just 78 cents for every dollar a man earns.
Making tuition free at public colleges and universities throughout America. Everyone in this country who studies hard should be able to go to college regardless of income.
Expanding Social Security by lifting the cap on taxable income above $250,000. At a time when the senior poverty rate is going up, we have got to make sure that every American can retire with dignity and respect.
Guaranteeing healthcare as a right of citizenship by enacting a Medicare for all single-payer healthcare system. It’s time for the U.S. to join every major industrialized country on earth and provide universal healthcare to all.
Requiring employers to provide at least 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave; two weeks of paid vacation; and 7 days of paid sick days. Real family values are about making sure that parents have the time they need to bond with their babies and take care of their children and relatives when they get ill.
Enacting a universal childcare and prekindergarten program. Every psychologist understands that the most formative years for a human being is from the ages 0-3. We have got to make sure every family in America has the opportunity to send their kids to a high quality childcare and pre-K program.
Making it easier for workers to join unions by fighting for the Employee Free Choice Act. One of the most significant reasons for the 40-year decline in the middle class is that the rights of workers to collectively bargain for better wages and benefits have been severely undermined.
Breaking up huge financial institutions so that they are no longer too big to fail. Seven years ago, the taxpayers of this country bailed out Wall Street because they were too big to fail. Yet, 3 out of the 4 largest financial institutions are 80 percent bigger today than before we bailed them out. We need to fight to get this legislation signed into law.
Here’s Johnson on the economy:
- National debt, approaching $20 trillion, is bankrupting us. (Jan 2016)
- National debt of $20 trillion is obscene & unsustainable. (Jan 2016)
- Lay out a process for state bankruptcies. (Aug 2012)
- No bank bailout; no farm subsidies; no stimulus. (May 2012)
- Cut federal budget by 43% to bring it into balance. (Feb 2012)
- Trillion-dollar stimulus failed; so will another $450B? (Sep 2011)
- We could have avoided default without raising debt ceiling. (Aug 2011)
- Ending the fed OK, but that’s only part of the solution. (Aug 2011)
- Stop incurring more debt; balanced budget by 2013. (Jul 2011)
- Our debt is greatest threat to our national security. (Jul 2011)
- Opposed TARP, stimulus & Fannie Mae bailout. (Jul 2011)
- End the Fed; they’ve devalued the dollar by printing money. (May 2011)
Both sound like pipe dreams, but at least one dreams about the government helping the people who elect it into power.
Please PLEASE fellow former Bernie supporters, pay attention to the candidates you support, and read more about them. The Libertarian party is not what we got excited about, in fact they stand for diametrically opposing things – slashing taxes & benefits, reducing welfare programs, and the limited governmental regulation of corporations.
This isn’t to say that Libertarians or Social Democrats are wrong, but it is to point out that they are opposites. If you supported Bernie Sanders and got excited about his idea of what government can be, you should know that Gary Johnson believes the opposite. If you look into Johnson and the Libertarian Party’s platforms and come out satisfied on the other side, then by all means – move to Ohio and register to vote so you can cast a vote that matters. If you think a Social Democracy is a wonderful idea, vote for progressive candidates and policies in you local elections and visit Our Revolution to see how you can help.
Whatever you do, register to vote and actually vote. Educate yourself on both sides of the questions and candidates, it’s worth your time.